City shuts outdoor fitness classes; cites county order

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Town Crier File Photo
The city of Los Altos has shut down Alkalign’s outdoor fitness classes on the Bumble Green.

The city of Los Altos has shut down Alkalign’s outdoor fitness classes on the Bumble Green because they violate Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order, according to the owner of the downtown studio.

Alkalign founder and CEO Erin Paruszewski told the Town Crier last week that the city informed her June 23 that her outdoor classes violated the order, which restricts outdoor recreation activities to a maximum of two families. It states that “private classes and training sessions are allowed, limited to one instructor with members of one household, so long as they take place entirely outdoors, do not involve shared equipment (other than a ball, frisbee or other similar item), and are non-contact activities. Instructors must maintain six feet of social distance at all times from trainees.”

Paruszewski, who held the classes for two weeks, said she did not expect the sessions to be canceled, because local high school sports teams are allowed to practice in groups of 12 and the county has loosened some of its restrictions on businesses.

“I was very surprised,” she said. “Neither Alkalign nor our landlords who suggested we use the Bumble space were aware of the two-household rule. Given that doesn’t apply to any other business, I think it’s very unfair. Los Altos has closed the streets to allow other businesses to bring their services outdoors. Why can’t fitness do the same?”

Paruszewski added that Alkalign was following social-distancing protocol.

“We were 6 feet apart, wore masks to and from our stations, didn’t share equipment and were respectful of the space and the neighbors,” she said.

Paruszewski, who has not been allowed to hold in-person classes at her First Street studio for nearly four months, is frustrated with how fitness studios like hers have been treated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Moreover, exercise is good for physical and mental health. If you want to argue what is ‘essential,’ I’d say it is much more essential than some other business that has arbitrarily been deemed essential,” she said. “It’s not the rule that bothers me – it’s the lack of consistency from business to business. It makes no sense.”

Paruszewski added that she expressed her concerns in a virtual town hall meeting and that many of her clients have reached out to city council members and have started a petition asking the city to allow the outdoor classes.

Alkalign’s Los Altos studio continues to offer virtual sessions due to the recent restrictions. Meanwhile, its Menlo Park location remains open, capped at nine participants per class, with masks and social distancing required.

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